Complementary Approach of Data Analysis and Modeling to Estimate the Pattern of the BSE Epidemic: The Example of France
Clinical surveillance was the only way to detect bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) until July 2000 in France. From the 103 cases identified as such between 1991 and June 2000, we used a back-calculation method to reconstruct the longitudinal trend of BSE infections. Between July 1987 and June 1997, an estimated 51,300 (CI =[24,300–84,700]) cattle were infected in France. The comprehensive surveillance of BSE with rapid tests, set up in France since 2001 at the abattoir and fallen plant, allowed study of the relative exposure of the successive birth cohorts with nonconditional logistic regression models adjusted for possible confounding variables. The results were in agreement with those of the back-calculation model, estimating a decrease of the BSE exposure from the birth cohort July 1995–June 1996 that matched with the decrease of the infection after June 1996. In view of the long incubation period of BSE, it is not possible to precisely assess the impact of any control measure before several years. Modeling was therefore used to estimate prospectively the efficiency of the ban of meat and bone meal extended to all farm species in November 2000. Using parameters about age at infection and incubation time estimated earlier, we assessed the minimum time to first detection if infections still occurred. We have waited up to June 2007 to know if less than 100 infections occurred among French cattle during the 6 months following January 2001.
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